There aren’t many pro drifters in the world who have pushed the driving and car building envelope quite like Daigo Saito has.
He’s won almost every championship worth winning, and in the process has created a very distinctive style of car and set up. Daigo is also the complete opposite of most other Japanese drivers who don’t really like moving away from the cars and platforms that they know.
But Daigo is always up for challenge, whether it’s building the craziest JZX100 ever to be seen in D1 Grand Prix competition, to drifting mid-engined Italian exotics. And it’s the latter that brought me out to Fat Five Racing – Daigo’s man cave/race shop – earlier this week.
Having seen a few images of an overfender-equipped Ferrari 599 built by Fat Five to go sideways, I arranged to visit Daigo at his compound in the Saitama countryside so I could check it out. Unfortunately though, on arrival I was told that the Ferrari had already been shipped off to its owner who commissioned the build in a bit of a hurry. Not to worry though, as there are always interesting cars in Daigo’s personal collection, and I was sure there would be something I’d never seen before.
It turns out I was right…
Yes, this is a Callaway Corvette Z06-R GT3 race car, and yes, Daigo is going to drift it, in the 2017 D1 Grand Prix series no less. It’s amazing where the quest for excitement is taking him with car choice, because this is next-level stuff.
This particular Z06-R contested the GT300 class of the 2011 Super GT Championship in Japan, and Daigo picked it up as you see it here, complete with all the battle scars you’d expect a car that’s been raced for a couple of season to have. But despite the light cosmetic wear, it’s an extremely solid base to build upon.
There are telltale signs of its former life everywhere, from the visible ghost marks of old sponsor logos, to technical approval stickers from tracks like Fuji, Sugo and Okayama.
But what about its potential as a D1GP drift car? Well, in making the switch from circuit to drift spec, the wide body should prove very useful in containing the aggressive wheel and tire fitment that a pro drift alignment will introduce.
However, the current ride height will definitely have to be addressed.
The Z06-R will soon been gutted out to drop even more weight, and in usual Daigo fashion only the bare minimum of devices will go back in.
The roll cage looks like it’s well up to task when it comes to the required safety standards and structural rigidity, but don’t be surprised if Daigo adds to it and modifies it to suit. The Moton race dampers may also need to be ditched in favor of something more drift specific.
The C6 has a transaxle gearbox of course – a sequentially-shifted one in the case of this race car – so it all offers the ability to balance front-to-rear weight rather nicely.
This is surely one of the wildest drift projects that Daigo has ever embarked on, and it’s right up there with the Liberty Walk-kitted Lamborghini Murciélago that still continues to blow people away.
One question remains though: what will power this thing?
As it stands, the Corvette’s original race-spec V8 (complete with its Super GT power restrictor) still resides up front, but I really hope Daigo ditches it for a Toyota 2JZ. You guys are with me, right?
Stay tuned for more from my visit to Fat Five Racing, including a fresh shop tour and a detailed look at one of Daigo’s most famous drift builds.
Dino Dalle Carbonare
No 2jz swap for a Corvette please. Just keep the original V8 and put a 2jz in any other import car please.
As a matter of fact, what good would it do to swap a corvette engine to 2jz? I think the opposite would be nice, as you mentioned dampers, widebody, ride height and then possibly an engine swap? This means that the "special" part of a special car is gone, and then it isn't that special anymore. Might as well take a stock corvette, strip it, haul a 2jz and a sequential for the same result. If looking at if from uniqueness perspective - keeping this car as close as drift allows it to stay to current state would make it as unique as possible.
@MantasDosinas that's actually a good point. Though it may be somewhat underpowered. I wonder how much work a restrictor build needs to really liven up. Also depends on how competitive a build it was in the first place, or how hard it was run, it may need to be recycled anyway. It was a racing motor after all.
@klevenspielberg never mind my comment below, i see what you're saying
@klevenspielberg meh, it's not quite transgressive enough, and not inherently special enough to be a sick choice on its own. Going down that route Boss 302 maybe?
@marlboro_jdm but this wasn't a GT3 car converted into a drift car
I think C6 with 2J is a great idea, this is a race car, a rolling billboard no matter its sitting in your computer screen, a magazine or in front of you, the more buzz it generates the better, regardless of pos or neg. More publicity is good publicity, especially in a non-mainstream sport. Daigo still runs a business so he needs do business things.
@EmmaMacki ""this is a race car,""
No it's not. It WAS a race car. Now it's going to be a drift car. Where you win based on style points, not who's actually faster.
Screams Turbo Encabulator swap.
@TimAukamp This little website called youtube
Very nice, but two things stood out:
1 - "However, the current ride height will definitely have to be addressed."
For a competition vehicle, the ride height looks spot on to me - as long as he loses those intakes under the splitter. Unless you think it needs another inch or two of ground clearance, of course.
2 - "...I really hope Daigo ditches it for a Toyota 2JZ. You guys are with me, right?"
Wrong. This isn't a Mk. IV or a JZX100.
@Ice Age Yeah the 2JZ swap comment is puzzling. This thing is a race car and has perfect weight distribution. The 2JZ will ruin that as it's heavier than that NA LS, taller, and sticks forward more.
@DriveCircles just like any motorsport discipline, drifting has its preferred brands. Those motons are probably overkill anyways. Example; if you're building a car for drag racing, you wont see anyone use motons, they'd probably use Strange engineering or QA coilovers. This might sound hard to believe, but just because the motons are a great product, doesnt make them necessary for this application. And who knows, maybe Dino knows Daigo prefers a certain brand of coilovers?
Seems a waste of a GT3 car. Car ment for proper racing. Be it a stock Lamborghini or a Chevrolet and i wouldn't mind but this doesn't feel right.
Indeed, really should have started with something else instead of destroying a perfectly good race car, then a again it wouldn't be so outrageous or even discussed here so whatever. Whatever makes Daigo happy, go for it
@DriveCircles @LauriLeesmaa I think a tune on the moton would work.
@LauriLeesmaa that always the problem with racecars that just ran out of homologation. You can't use them competitively in racing anymore, but also not yet in historic series'.
@LauriLeesmaa Agreed. Removing a MOTON suspension for anything else in of itself is automotive sacrilege.
Another toadlike "student" of close-mindedness
@Therealstig but putting an ls in an rx7 isn't full retard h u h
@Deep Dishin It I wouldnt even paint it lol!! I would just get a nose lift kit installed so I don't get stuck on a speed bump trying to outrun the police hehehee!
@Deep Dishin It Paint? No way.
I love how the bodywork's all scarred up with misaligned panels and old decal impressions like some fourth-owner New York delivery truck.
@bluestreaksti VR38, huh? Just don't use that thing's glass transaxle...
@bluestreaksti it HAS AN LS Engine...